Occupy the Airwaves: Will Anonymous hijack TV and radio stations?

The Occupy movement may move to occupying the airwaves by hackers hijacking radio and TV stations to broadcast their message across the country. The potential plan to Occupy the Airwaves was reported ABC7News after interviewing a hacker and computer expert called "Jake" aka "Secret Squirrel." Jake's plan would be to hack into the FEMA Emergency Alert System (EAS) with a pro-Occupy movement message from Anonymous.

"The potential is that you could hijack all radio and TV stations across the country," Jake told ABC7. "There's no authentication, there's no encryption, there's no passwords, there's nothing that is required to send what would appear to be a valid message. I would then play the tones on my laptop, they get transmitted by the radio, I then play my audio message and then I just pack everything up and walk away."

The EAS messages are automated and go straight to the air, so a fake emergency alert would not likely be caught before it broadcast. His example of a message might be "there were 20 dirty bombs or something like that that were detonated," but a War of the Worlds type message could cause wide-spread panic and chaos.

San Francisco State Broadcast Professor Marie Drennan. suggested that it's wasn't just "backwoods rural folks" who fell for War of the Worlds as people in New York City were running around in a panic. Drennan told ABC, "I have to admit the idea of taking over the EAS, I love it, I love it, I love it -- but I can see how it could go horrible wrong."

FEMA is apparently not nearly so amused by the idea of hijacking EAS for an Occupy movement message. On the I-Team blog, FEMA responded about the security vulnerability in the EAS. "FEMA takes any potential threats seriously and we evaluate all such claims to determine their validity. The Emergency Alert System already has adequate safety and security measures in place to ensure that it will only be used by appropriate officials as a way to communicate with the American people in the event of a real emergency."

There has been a video on the subject since Matt "DCFLuX" Krick presented it at DefCon 16 in 2006, so it's hardly new but certainly attention-grabbing. Jake was "inspired"  by V for Vendetta as was the creative hack by the V for Vendetta hacker who hijacked the projector system to broadcast his message at Washington State University, urging students to "Remember, Remember, the Fifth of November." In fact, it reminds me a bit of Live Free or Die Hard or at least some of the projects that have come out of it.

Jake was previously "convicted of causing damage to a protected computer -- hacking into his former employer's system -- but the conviction was reversed on appeal because of insufficient evidence." He would doubtfully be so lucky if the DOJ has its way about the new wording of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), since the anti-hacking law would make criminals of most of us. While Jake claims not to be a part of the group Anonymous, connected for "social interaction," he handed his plan to Anonymous "The Plan" which supports the Occupy movement. 

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